These days, it feels as if I’m perpetually in the middle of something. Ontario is still firmly in the ugly middle of the pandemic; the backs of my hands remind me I’m officially middle-aged; my desk bristles with scraps of ideas; there isn’t a night I don’t fall asleep bemoaning a forgotten chore; I haven’t finished a hot cup of coffee in five years.
And while I’m great at beginnings and have (mostly) made peace with endings, the middle and I aren’t friends. I like to draw up lists, arrange things just so, tick off boxes, and bask the warm glow of a plan well-made and well-executed.
But life isn’t like that.
It’s messy. It’s unpredictable. It’s not a straight line with one beginning and one ending but a slew of them held together with fairyfloss—a series of scattered, interconnected middles that somehow weave together to make a whole story.
It’s enough to make any Type A (like me) sweat through their pocket protector.
What I’d like to say next is that the Bible is brimming with verses on navigating the middle. But it’s not.
If you’re at the start of something, there are tons of great one-liners to encourage you. “Do not despise these small beginnings,” being my personal favorite (Zech 4:10). You have only to stick a finger into Proverbs at random to find anything else you need.
Endings are covered, too. If the glorious Book of Revelation isn’t enough, give Matthew a read. There’s also always Paul’s reminder that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom 8:28).
But there’s nothing on the middle. At least, nothing you could print on a T-shirt.
[insert 3-hour break]
Uh…where was I?
See, this is exactly what I mean. Smack in the middle of writing this, I had to stop to make breakfast, get my kid up, hustle her to get ready for online school, tidy up, then sit down again and try to remember what the heck I was talking about. All the carefully-organized, streamlined thoughts I had—poof!—gone.
The dreaded middle strikes again.
Rather than attempting to wrestle a tidy conclusion out of the chaos of the rest of my day (another series of middles), let me end by sharing the thought that stirred me out of bed this morning, raw and uncut, without my usual dramatic scholarly flair.
There isn’t a lot of direct Scripture for the middle like there is for beginning and endings. You can’t do a keyword search and pop up a verse to write on your mirror. What you find instead are myriad admonitions and consolations on how to live a good and godly life, most of the time hanging on by your fingernails. You have to wade through the middle of the Bible to grasp its lessons.
Thankfully, God does it with you.
And while Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, it’s the Holy Spirit—the helper and counselor on the earth with us now—who is the middle. For him to dwell in us and with us means that the middle isn’t left to chance. He’s right here, active in the present tense, not past or future.
Because of that, no matter how many mushy, murky, mucky middles I journey through between my beginning and end, I can trust that everything will be just fine, that everything—everything—will be all right.
Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head, you feel left out
Or looked down on
Just try your best
Try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves
When you’re away
It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right, all right
— from “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
This post is part of Five-Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is MIDDLE. If you’d like to join in the fun, click here!